Traffic attendants win reinstatement victory

After sixteen weeks struggle and numerous ups and downs, Belfast’s sacked traffic attendants have finally reached an end to what has been a hugely important dispute for both the workers involved and the wider trade union movement. The dispute started at the beginning of April when the traffic attendants were sacked for walking out of work on a half day protest against atrocious working conditions.  Their employer, NSL (formerly NCP), initially responded by offering to enter talks about the issues the workers had raised but instead quickly moved to sack the 26 workers accusing them of taking illegal industrial action. 

This was the first time that this law had been used against any group of workers in Northern Ireland. NSL received a shock when the workers, refusing to lie down and go away, organised and fought back by putting pressure on Northern Ireland Assembly politicians, holding daily protests that became a Belfast landmark (and the location for regular traffic jams outside NSL HQ on Calendar street) and preparing for strike action by their colleagues who remained in work. From the beginning of the campaign the workers vowed that they would only end their campaign when all 26 had been offered reinstatement to their jobs.

The turning point of the campaign was reached at the end of July when the workers, both sacked and those still inside the workplace, met and took the brave decision to begin a ballot for strike action across Belfast. Within days serious talks took place between the workers trade union NIPSA and the employers and a settlement to the dispute was hammered out. Although the details of the agreement reached are confidential what is clear is that the workers have won a huge victory.

Having fought and won this battle the workers have now to set themselves new targets. A strong democratic union for traffic attendants needs to be built across Northern Ireland. The culture of dictatorial management control which included hiring and firing of workers at will and the bullying of staff has to be brought to a halt. In addition they along with the wider trade union movement must fight to bring this service back under public ownership and democratic control. Only then will it be possible to make this the service it should be; one dedicated to the road safety of the public instead of a cash cow for private sector companies.

 

14 August 2009
Total
0
Shares
Previous Article

Justice for the sacked NCP workers

Next Article

Vote Yes for National Action

Related Posts

Egypt, Portugal, Spain… Youth Revolt Against Capitalism

With towering levels of unemployment, education cuts and (for those lucky to find work) squeezing of already adequate wages, young people are being hit hardest by the recession. Whilst the percentage of young people aged 18-24 officially unemployed in Northern Ireland rises above 17% (a further 62,000 16-18 year olds are unemployed) the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government continues to spend approximately £2million pounds a day on bombing Libya rather than creating jobs for young people.

Greece: Savage austerity policies passed despite mass protest

Tear gas and police brutality against general strikes and movement of the Enraged
 Deploying tear gas and threats, the Greek Pasok government passed new austerity policies during a protest 48 hour general strike and the movement of the ‘Enraged’. Tens of thousands went on to the streets of Athens on 28 June during trade union demonstrations to Syntagma Square, next to the parliament buildings. During the evening, around 50,000 attended a ‘rebellion’ concert. On Wednesday 29 June, tens of thousands came together in the centre of Athens to show their anger. The trade union confederations called for a 48 hour general strike. The support was solid. Public transport – except the metro, which was asked to transport people to the demonstrations – came to a halt and the public sector participation was overwhelming.

Mid-Ulster A&E: Mass demonstration Friday 28 May

It was fantastic to see so many local people come out onto the streets of the town on Friday night to demonstrate their anger at the threat to Mid-Ulster A&E services. But it is crucial that this is the start and not the end of a campaign. Today, the Health Minister and Trust management to close A&E services, but the fight is not over. It is a purely administrative decision which can be overturned if there is enough pressure applied by ordinary people.